This has been on my watch list for awhile. I never expected that this 1979 Disney dabbling into SciFi would be particularly good. But there was a lot of seventies SciFi that I enjoyed and still remember fondly. As I kid, I was a loyal watcher of Space 1999, BattleStar Galactica, and even a little Buck Rogers. There were movies that I still regard fondly, such as Fantastic Planet, Dark Star, Silent Running, Star Trek the Motion Picture, and even Star Wars. Having never watched this film seemed like a missing link in my background of SciFi appreciation.
This movie has it all. It’s got exotic spacescapes, spaceships, laser shootouts, and explosions! It’s also got a villain who would turn everyone into an automaton to serve his pointless ambitions. Neat!
As a kid watching in 1979, I might have loved this movie as much as any of the other SciFi offerings of the day.
Today I am very picky. On one hand I am very interested in a story about a scientist considering the implications of deliberately entering a black hole. But I am not very entertained when that scientist’s thoughts are not grounded any modicum of reality whatsoever. Then pile on a generous helping of autonomous robots that shiver in fear, or shake their fists in rage, and the whole thing feels about as authentic as an episode of Bugs Bunny.
The emotive robots and the tacky villain are the hallmarks of a Disney production. So, what’s the big deal? Star Wars had those things too, right? Well, by comparison, Star Wars had more broadly a good guys vs. bad guys theme. I think what really rubs me the wrong way about The Black Hole is that it elevates the trope of the evil scientist vs. the nice people. This idea misses the mark in terms of what appeals to SciFi enthusiasts. The SciFi enthusiast dreams of the potential that the products of science have to offer. Vilifying the pursuit of science is reaching in the wrong direction. That makes this movie the product of an injection molded Disney tale adorned with space ships and laser guns.
All right, having said that, I didn’t completely hate this movie. The Black Hole is a fun, campy, adventure movie.
Check it out!